Minerals and trace elements play an important role in the human body. They act as electrolytes, which ensure the exchange of nutrients between the cells and the extracellular environment. The imbalance between the body’s mineral content and body fluids can be caused by high or prolonged sweating. For this reason, minerals and body fluids must be in balance, as osmotic balance can be disturbed and muscle cramps or other problems can occur.
Intake of clean water after severe dehydration is sometimes not enough. In extreme cases, there can even be a dangerous “water poisoning” (hyponatremia), manifested by nausea and vomiting.
Electrolytes needed for athletes
People with a larger body volume have a relatively smaller body surface area, so they get rid of excess heat worse and their sweat loss is much higher than in small people. Mineral supplementation is important especially for taller athletes and generally more for men than women.
At 15 km / h and 20 ° C, the runner sweats approximately 1-2 liters of fluid per hour. Sweat losses increase dramatically at higher temperatures. To prevent dehydration, I recommend approximately 0.5 liters of fluid with electrolytes 2 hours before exercise.
Salt (NaCl) and sodium (Na), respectively, which play a key role in cellular osmosis, should be mentioned first among the minerals. Salt intake in a normal diet far exceeds the physiological minimum, but during long-term and exhausting exercise, especially in a warm environment, sodium losses are very significant (approximately 800 – 1400 mg Na / 1 liter of sweat). Lack of sodium in body fluids in combination with a high intake of pure water depleted of minerals poses a high risk of the already mentioned hyponatremia. Sodium should therefore be added continuously to beverages or gels.
Magnesium deficiency is often associated with the onset of convulsions. The daily dose of magnesium (Mg) is in a wide range, but is estimated at 250 to 450 mg. Examples of good sources of magnesium are: poppy (456 mg / 100 g), sunflower (420 mg / 100 g) and sesame seeds (352 mg / 100 g), soy flour (300 mg / 100 g), walnuts (247 mg / 100 g) 100 g), almonds (251 mg / 100 g). There are also many magnesium supplements to choose from.
I recommend replenishing potassium (K) especially after exercise. Potassium affects insulin secretion and has an irreplaceable role in glycogen production. Half a liter of sweat contains about 85-105 mg of potassium. The high losses caused by heavy sweating are sufficient to supplement with regular foods. Rich sources of potassium include: spinach (1977 mg / 100 g), cocoa powder (1500 mg / 100 g), raisins (1020 mg / 100 g), nuts (690 mg / 100 g), lentils (670 mg / 100 g) g), bananas (450 mg / 100 g), tomatoes (275 mg / 1 piece), potatoes (570 mg / 100 g), orange (250 mg / 100 g).
Calcium plays an important role in muscle contractions. In addition, it is generally beneficial for bone support and growth during adolescence. The optimal calcium intake for children and adults is approximately 1000 mg. For the elderly, breastfeeding women and puberty, the dose is 1500 mg. The best sources of calcium are cheeses (Parmesan 1340 mg / 100 g, Emmental 1145 mg / 100 g, blue cheese 612 mg / 100g), dairy products (cottage cheese 366 mg / 100g, milk 120 mg / 100g, yoghurts 150-200mg / 100 g) , poppy (1059 mg / 100 g), almonds (279 mg / 100 g), sesame seeds (783 mg / 100 g), sea fish (sardines 410 mg / 100 g). In case of excessive protein intake, calcium is used to neutralize acids that are formed during their decomposition. This leads to increased calcium excretion and bone loss.
Iron is part of hemoglobin and for this reason it is needed in sports mainly by endurance athletes during training to increase blood transport functions. The best sources of iron are mainly animal products (meat and offal 2-8 mg / 100 g, egg yolk (6 mg / 100 g), yeast (17 mg / 100 g) and molasses (17 mg / 100 g) are also high. The content in plant food is also high (wheat germ 9 mg / 100 g, poppy 17 mg / 100 g, oatmeal 7 mg / 100 g, hazelnuts 14 mg / 100 g), but only in small amounts it can benefit the body. This can have adverse consequences for perennials who are vegetarians, and the absorption of iron can be significantly improved by the administration of vitamin C.
Other minerals are not excreted to such an extent in sports activities. Therefore, it is not so necessary to supplement them through supplementation. Minerals, vitamins and sugars are best and most conveniently supplied through a variety of ionic beverages, but not every manufacturer has the right composition. Mineral water can also be used as a source of minerals and trace elements. It should also be noted that extreme doses of a mineral can be toxic in the sense that they cause other important substances to be excreted from the body.
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